Fr. Paul A. F. Castellano
The True Meaning of Christmas
After 2 weeks of travel and almost 6 weeks of illness which has kept me in bed for almost a month and then opening up my skull with a head injury, I'm back. Well, at least for today and then I'll be dark for the Christmastide returning after the first of the year. However, I didn't want to stay absent for such a long period of time therefore, I want to share with you my annual post concerning the true meaning of Christmas. I post this every year but decided to include it in my blog since I'll post this anyway.
As we depart the Advent season, let the manner in which society celebrates Christmas - the cheapening of the significance of the Day - be overwhelmed with the true meaning of Christmas. Christmas is not about presents, or gifts or parties or even family. None of which are wrong in and of themselves. What has happened, unfortunately, is that THOSE THINGS have BECOME the meaning and focus of Christmas. Everyone begins to anticipate, not its true meaning, but the parties, presents, and gifts. This makes Christmas no more than an excuse to have another party. This is one reason why people claim Christianity is irrelevant. After all, one of the holiest of her days is asserted to be nothing more than an excuse for another party. The relevance of Christianity, however, is found in the true meaning of Christmas. The TRUE meaning of Christmas is this: 2,000 years ago, in a small barn, amidst hay, dirt, animal urine, manure, and the cold, God graciously and sacrificially gave mankind the GREATEST GIFT of all time. That gift was the answer to man's most serious and difficult problem - man's alienation from God due to sin. There is nothing more relevant for all of mankind than that! The gift was the birth of a baby boy; a tiny little infant, in whose existence rested man's ultimate Joy, Hope, and Security. That baby, that tiny little child, was born King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The announcement of this King was not in the usual manner of court personages, loud trumpets, and a cavalcade of spectacular dignitaries proceeding on stately horseback.
No, this King’s announcement was a stunning Herald of the Angelic Host from the Heavenly Court before the transcendent Sovereign God of the Universe, made to lowly shepherds, in a field, tending their flocks. He, the second person of the Triune Godhead, being perfect with God the Father and The Spirit, left Heaven's perfection and Glory and took upon Himself the humiliation of human flesh; the degradation of soiling Himself in a dirty, smelly diaper, in order to GIVE TO US God’s greatest gift - salvation.
It is this King, this Lord, this Son of God who will return, and in His return, His second advent, He will be Heralded by the sound of cosmic trumpets, accompanied by the Divine Heavenly Court, riding upon the Heavenly Chariot of His Father’s cosmic mobile Throne; and when this occurs, we will not simply bow our heads in honor of His majestic presence, we will fall to our knees before His Divine, Sovereign Glory!
It is HIM upon whom we should focus on Christmas Day - not picking out the perfect gift, the best CD, or the most expensive sweater; not sharing gifts - no matter how noble that may APPEAR to be. Focusing upon that, emphasizing that, only cheapens His Birth and, eventual sacrifice for us. It distracts our focus from Him; for it is upon Him, and because of Him, and for Him we should celebrate Christmas. In His Incarnation as the tiny infant, we receive the answer to all darkness. This Incarnation is where the transcendent, holy, sovereign second person of the Triune Godhead leaves His glorious, spectacular heavenly abode in order to assume a human nature and identify with us, His creation, in all aspects of our lives. This identification of the tiny infant with humanity begins the profound journey He will undertake to save His people by living as we live, experiencing what we experienced culminating in providing the ultimate sacrifice to His Father for our sin in His divine atoning work as He returned Triumphant to the Father and Spirit, to sit down at the right hand of the Father, in their Divine Dwelling place, His work of redemption accomplished. From His Incarnation to His Atonement, and finally His Ascension, in unbroken connection of these remarkable, majestic doctrines, the tiny infant unites all of redemptive history for us.
So, if you're looking for the perfect gift, the most priceless present, the most relevant way of expressing your love for someone, give them (at the very least), Luke 2: 11-14: 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger." 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!" Then you can give your other presents. Merry Christmas my friends - Truly.